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article imageRed Cross stops providing tents for Palestinians in Jordan Valley

By Ken Hanly     Feb 5, 2014 in Politics
Jerusalem - The International Committee of the Red Cross has decided to no longer provide emergency tents to Palestinians living in the Jordan Valley whose homes have been demolished by Israel.
The Red Cross decided on the move after officials discovered that over the last few months the Israeli Army has kept all the tents from reaching the Palestinians who need them. They either confiscate or destroy them. Other sources give somewhat different accounts but with the same result, Palestinians with no tents. The Israeli military authority that governs the West Bank told the Red Cross that they would not change this policy and would continue to prevent the tents from reaching those in need of them. This is happening while data show demolitions carried out by Israel in the Jordan Valley are increasing.
The Red Cross did not officially announce its decision but a spokesperson, Ran Goldstein told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that it would continue to provide other items such as mattresses, blankets, and personal hygiene kits but would no longer send tents. However, in other areas of the West Bank and in East Jerusalem where the Israelis demolish homes provision of emergency tents will continue. Goldstein said that stopping provision of the tents was difficult: “It was not an easy decision to make. Unfortunately there was no other alternative but to take this decision. There is really no sense in distributing tents that are taken away after two days". Another Israeli source claims that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) either prevented the distribution of the tents or took them down forcing the Red Cross to cease providing them: " The decision came after the IDF tore down the tents and also prevented the organization from taking tents into villages in the area, as part of a humanitarian aid supply."
Statistics from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs show that the Israeli Civil Administration demolished 390 buildings in the Jordan Valley in 2013 more than double the 172 torn down in 2012. Of the total 156 were residents while the rest were storage sheds, livestock pens, etc. There were numerous demolitions in other areas as well. In 2013, 1,103 Palestinians lost their homes from demolitions. Just in the Jordan Valley alone some 590 people including 297 children lost their homes as a result of the policy. The Red Cross emergency aid including the tents had allowed many of those who lost their homes to remain in the valley.
However, the Israeli authorities seem determined to drive Palestinian residents many of whom are herders out of the area. In late January almost all tents and huts in two herding communities of Umm al-Jamal and Ein al-Hilweh were destroyed. 66 people including 36 children were left homeless. The soldiers came back the next day to make sure nothing was rebuilt. When an inhabitant asked the soldiers where they could go, one soldier replied to Tubas an area under the responsibility of the Palestinian authority. The inhabitants complained that they could no longer move elsewhere in the Jordan Valley as they had done in the past since every area was declared a closed military zone.
The Israeli Civil Administration claims the demolitions are legal since the structures were built without permits. However, in the opinion of the European Union and international aid organizations the demolitions violate international law since the Palestinians are a protected people living on occupied land.
On February 4, EU representatives in Israel put out a press release after the late January demolitions in the north Jordan Valley that read in part: “These demolitions come in addition to other recent demolitions, such as the demolition of a home and a caravan in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Beit Hanina on 27 Jan, which resulted in the displacement of 19 people, including 11 children. On 29 January, 2 houses and one animal barn were demolished in the village of al-Jiftlik al Musafah, rendering two families homeless.” The press release also urged Israel to meet it obligations regarding the living conditions of Palestinians in these areas by halting the forced transfer of people and demolition of Palestinian housing and infrastructure.
More about International red cross, Israeli demolitions, Jordan valley
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